Taiwan is located between a tropical and subtropical area, so it does not snow in winter. Therefore, apparently, we lack exciting activities like ice skating or skiing to enjoy. If people want to participate in these activities, they might choose to go to countries nearby such as Japan or Korea for an one-day trip. Last year, when I went to Chuncheon, which situated in northern Korea, I seized the precious opportunity to learn skiing. Although it was extremely cold, I felt nothing but excitement and bliss. With the experience, I made up my mind to try any winter activities at least once. Fortunately, TRAILS has arranged an ice skating plan that is free for all students, so I registered right away.
We walked to Washington Harbour Ice Skating Rink, which is just a few blocks away from GWU. The admission fee for an adult is 10 dollars and if you need to rent the skates, you have to pay 6 dollars more. For me, the price is reasonable but a little bit expensive, so I decided to make full advantage of it. I was so nervous at the beginning because it was really hard to maintain the balance. I kept screaming and hold the penguin (a cute tool for beginners to keep in balance) still and tight to avoid falling. But after a few hours, when I tried to believe in myself and skated in strides, I could catch the tips step by step.
It was an extremely memorable and exciting experience for me, especially when I skated with my dear friends. But time always flies! We had to leave the ice rink after hours of skating. With the beautiful sunset and harbor, I accomplished my first ice skating trip. For those who enjoy ice skating, Washington Harbour Ice Skating Rink may serve your needs. You can also enjoy a great meal in the restaurant by the harbor, admiring the scenery at night with a sense of tranquility.
I don’t know why they call it Midterms week because for me I’m having midterms for 3 weeks now. This week again I had two midterms and I still have one to go. I can’t wait to see the grades to finally know how I’m performing here in GWU. So, after a tough week of exams, I deserved some rest and fun during the weekend.
One of the experiences that I loved doing during this weekend is going to a corn maze in Lawyers farm in Maryland. As you know Halloween is coming, and there are a lot of activities happening in Washington DC around that. The event was organized by GW Campus Outreach and honestly, we had a LOT of fun. It was my first experience in a corn maze and I really enjoyed it. I have never thought that getting lost in a maze is a real thing. But it was fun being lost for an hour trying to find the exit in the dark while scaring each other. By the end, we had s'mores around the bonfire. It was really cool to get around the fire and talk for a while, especially in that freezing cold weather.
Since I love outdoor activities, after a night in the farm around the fire, I had a hike with GW Trails to Mary’s Rock summit in Shenandoah National Park. The Shenandoah park was two hours drive from GWU but the scenery in Virginia’s roads was so beautiful. The hike was relatively easy, one hour up and half an hour down. But I can’t describe how fascinating the nature was. The trees were colored from red to faded orange colors. It was so beautiful to see the autumn vibe at its best in the park. Golden leaves were covering the narrow itineraries and I totally loved it. The best thing was the view from the Mary’s Rock summit. You just can’t get enough it. I would say it was totally worth the 15$ and going to Shenandoah national Park should be in your bucket list here in DC.
On Sunday, the White House opened its doors for the public to visit. It was a tour in the Gardens and apparently it happens twice a year. You can imagine the massive amount of people in line to get their tickets to the White House at 8 am. After a long wait, we finally got them. It was nice to get a tour around the White House gardens and get that close from the presidential residence. But as the non-morning person I am, I think it wasn’t as impressive as I expected but at the end it was a must thing to-do when living in Washington DC.
And the greatest way to finish the week was to get Moroccan food for lunch. I didn’t think that I would miss it that much. It was SO good and I can ensure that by the approvals of all my other friends that tried it for the first time. At this point, I’m still not homesick yet but going to the Marrakech restaurant reminded me of how much I miss my country and its food.
It sounds cliche, but it seriously seemed like last week when we were walking around with our group leaders around DC, taking in the sights and making multiple trips to Target for groceries. Three days ago, I sat for my last final and yesterday, I bade farewell to my home of five months - DC.
The final week was a whirl of meeting up with different groups of friends, trying out new restaurants and revisiting ones we've been before. Parties were held, apartments were cleaned and emptied. Sleepless nights weren't because of cramming for finals, but rather the rush to pack to hit the move-out deadline.
In retrospect, choosing to do my exchange in DC was probably one of the best choices I've ever made. From the election rush and the slew of protests in January and February to the proximity of popular spots like Florida that came in really handy during spring break and finally to the host of lawn festivals and restaurant week when warmer weather rolled around in April and May - I constantly found ways to entertain myself regardless of the seasons. GWU presented me with an endless string of opportunities - from joining hikes with student group GW TRAILS to being accepted as a member of a co-ed fraternity to experience Greek Life to attending career fairs and related events, I had reaped immense knowledge and managed to immerse myself in a whole new experience this semester.
Perhaps one of my best memories from DC is visiting the
monuments at practically any time of day. From having picnics on the national mall and reading a book on the steps behind the Lincoln Memorial - these are experiences unique to DC/GWU students (to the envy of many). Bored at night? No problem, round up a few friends and go for a walk of the national monuments basking in moonlight. Feel like you've been eating too much recently? The scenic views of your running route along the national mall provide the definitive motivation.
I am grateful for the friendships forged, the memories created and the help I've received in navigating these 5 months of independent living. Thank you to everyone who's made a difference!
Audrey out. (Mic drop)
A lot happened this week. Unfortunately it's the week I learnt about just how painful it is getting your hand stitched up. It happened because I wasn't paying attention to the direction of cutting a cauliflower (note to self: never cut sideways). It's also because I lacked experience in the land of living by yourself and cooking for yourself. For the first minute or so after slicing my hand open with an extraordinarily sharp Ikea knife, my mind went blank, my heart started racing because I've never been good with blood. I got a bandaid out from my emergency kit but realized the cut was way too big and too deep. I grabbed some paper towels and pressed on the wound until my Uber transported me to the Colonial Health Centre. I didn't wait for long but it was also useless because they couldn't give me any stitches. They wrapped me up in bandage, charged me $30 for service and I was out the door. I was redirected to the Emergency Room which was in McPherson Square. Accessible by Metro. That's good. Then I waited in the waiting area for about 2 hours. I guess I wasn't dying so why the rush. A lovely nurse practitioner gave me 6 stitches. We talked about Grey's Anatomy to pass time. It looked horrible, still does, reminds me a bit of the Frankenstein's monster sorta thing. Whole procedure would cost me something like $500 AUD, which is bad if you had no health insurance (luckily I do). In about a week I'll be getting the stitches out, and it seems to be healing fine. It's an experience that teaches me to be more careful especially when you're overseas.
Onto some better news. Despite the cut, I was still able to go on a white water rafting trip with GW TRAiLs on Saturday. The closest place to raft was unfortunately in Ohiopyle State Park all the way in Pennsylvania (3 hours drive one way). If it weren't for the long drive, I'd definitely go every second weekend. No experience required and you don't even need to know how to swim (which is great for a non-swimmer like myself). We navigated through thrilling rapids for about 5 hours with a break in the middle (lunch was provided) and all of that (including transportation) was only $60! You can feel the endorphins rushing through your body. Each rapid is unlike the next. You're getting splashed all over but all you can think about is "Again! Let's do that again!". Our raft and trails leader, Kate, is a raft instructor and worked on the Colorado River over the summer so with her experience an our teamwork, we killed it on the rapids. I wish I had brought my phone to take photos but it was too risky without a waterproof case. So the photo here is the view on the drive to Ohiopyle which is equally as awesome.